Saturday, January 26, 2013

Top seat race headed for runoff, shows poll

Cord presidential candidate Raila Odinga during a past rally at Muliro Gardens. Photo/FILE

Cord presidential candidate Raila Odinga during a past rally at Muliro Gardens. Photo/FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU [email protected]

A second round in the presidential race in the March 4 General Election could be inevitable, according to the results of a new opinion poll.

The survey, by Ipsos Synovate, shows that neither of the two top contenders would have won the race in the first round if the elections were held between January 12 and 20.

To win outright on March 4, a candidate must score 50 per cent plus one votes.

The poll shows that neither Prime Minister Raila Odinga, nor Deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta, could achieve this target. Mr Odinga, the presidential candidate of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy, leads with a 46 per cent majority, while Mr Kenyatta, his rival in the Jubilee coalition, has 40 per cent.

Amani coalition, led by Mr Musalia Mudavadi, comes in third with five per cent.

The survey was carried out between January 12 and 20.

Dr Tom Wolf, a research analyst with Ipsos Synovate, noted that so much had changed in the political field, which the results of the poll did not capture.

He mentioned the shambolic nominations, and the decision by Mr Mudavadi and Narc Kenya’s Martha Karua to settle on running mates, as some of the factors that could change the popularity contest between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.

Defections factor

The party nominations were carried out on January 17 and 18, and the final list of contestants was submitted to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission on January 21.

That means that some things had changed considering the defections of some key party supporters to rival parties and the rejection of key party operatives in some counties.

“(Using these findings) you cannot predict who is going to win the elections,” said Dr Wolf.

He added that Ipsos Synovate did not make it to all the 47 counties to collect data and, even in the 28 counties where it got responses, they were not enough to address the requirement that for one to win the presidency, then they ought to have a 25 per cent vote majority in at least 24 counties.

“Whoever wants us to go county by county will have to pay for it,” said Dr Wolf.

Ipsos Synovate’s managing director Maggie Ireri said her company had fully paid for the poll.

The matter of a run-off poll puts Mr Mudavadi’s five per cent and the other 10 per cent of undecided voters as the ones who will have the final say as to who will win the elections.

“The key question for this election as of now is this: how will those who do not vote for either of the top two candidates on the first round vote on the second round, assuming they vote at all?” said Dr Wolf.

The problem is that, while 10 per cent of Kenyans are still undecided as to what coalition to support, only two per cent of the respondents are still ranked as “undecided” when it comes to settling on a presidential candidate. Three per cent of those interviewed did not respond to Ipsos Synovate’s query to name their favourite presidential candidate.

The undecided lot is highest at the Coast (23 per cent) and Western (17 per cent) and Dr Wolf offered unsolicited advice to the coalitions: This is where they should concentrate their campaigns.

“If you’re looking for a husband or wife, there’s no point inviting someone with an engagement ring (for a date),” Dr Wolf added.

The tally from the 5,895 respondents has Mr Odinga at 46 per cent; Mr Kenyatta at 40 per cent; Mr Mudavadi at five per cent; Mr Peter Kenneth at one per cent; and Ms Martha Karua at one per cent.

Two per cent of the respondents said they would vote for “others”. It is in this category that Ipsos Synovate put Prof James ole Kiyiapi.

Cord commands 43 per cent support among Kenyans, Jubilee has 41 per cent, Amani has four per cent, Eagle coalition has one per cent, and so does Narc Kenya.

Five per cent of the respondents do not support any coalition, and five per cent declined to state their favourite coalition.

Mr Odinga’s Cord leads in six provinces (Nairobi, Eastern, Western, North Eastern, Coast and Nyanza) while Jubilee has a huge following in Rift Valley and Central.

Amani coalition has the highest support in Western at 29 per cent. Although that is thought to be the stronghold of Mr Mudavadi, Cord still commands 46 per cent of the electorate, according to the Ipsos Synovate poll.